ONE of Hartlepool’s oldest pubs has changed hands - with the former owners looking forward to a happy and well-deserved retirement.
Peter Fletcher, 68, took over the derelict Princess Helena, in Whitby Street in October 2004, before transforming it back into the much-loved pub it remains today.
Peter’s time at the Princess Helena followed 25 years running the former RAFA Social Club, in the Burn Valley area of town.
But the dad-of-two and grandad-of-five who owned the pub with his wife, Pat, 66, decided to put it on the market two years ago and sealed a deal to sell the pub earlier this year.
“It is sad because we have so many happy memories at the pub and we have made a lot of friends there over the years,” said Peter, who lives in the Rift House area of town.
“But there comes a time where you have to take a step back.
“We owned the pub for 10 years and had the RAFA for 25 years before that so it’s all we’ve ever known really.”
Over that time Peter says the industry has been transformed and admits landlords and licensees now have a difficult job on their hands.
“It has all changed and it’s still changing,” said Peter, a dad of Lisa Crawford, 38, and former professional footballer Steve, 41.
“We have seen so many pubs close around us. I think if you’re not around the town centre area or willing to work all hours then it becomes difficult.”
The Princess Helena has had the same name since it first opened its doors in the 1860s.
Peter and Pat have sold the pub to regional firm Milli Leisure NE and the couple are now looking forward to their retirement.
Peter added: “To be honest we haven’t got loads planned, but it will be nice to just enjoy doing what we want to do.
“I was born in Hartlepool and always lived in Hartlepool so I certainly won’t be moving away.”